On January 30, 1982, Stanley Holloway died in Littlehampton, England. He was best known for his role as Alfred P. Doolittle in Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady. He originated the role on Broadway in 1956, reprised it in London’s West End a couple of years later, and finally on film in 1964. For his Broadway appearance, he garnered a Tony nomination, while his film depiction of the character yielded an Oscar nom.
There was far more to his career than Doolittle, Alfred P., however…
Stanley Holloway was born on October 1, 1890 (yes, he was 91 when he died) and his career spanned a time of great change in the entertainment world. He first made a name for himself in England as part of a troupe doing concert parties. In Julie Andrews’ memoir Home, she says that “A concert party was much like a vaudeville show, usually performed in an open-air theater on a seaside pier, or sometimes on the beach itself.” (p. 21)
Later, Holloway appeared in musical theatre, films — even wartime morale-booster type films — and journeyed across the pond to the United States to appear on stage and in films. He also spent some time in Canada, in roles at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival.
I absorbed some of his concert party routine by osmosis, through hearing my mother sing (for her own amusement and mine) Holloway’s deliciously gruesome — and funny — “With ‘Er ‘Ead Tucked Underneath ‘Er Arm” about Anne Boleyn, and through hearing a dear family friend, George Todd, recite one of Holloway’s famous “Albert” monologues — Young Albert and the Lion. You can delight to Holloway’s renditions of both on YouTube.
His voice, his manner, his characterizations, are indelibly etched on my memory.
Thank you, Stanley Holloway.